Peyton Manning has won four MVP awards, the most ever. He is considered a coach on the field, a quarterback in total control.
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But Manning was too impatient at the end in Foxborough on Sunday. With a chance to at least tie the score with an Adam Vinatieri field goal, Manning risked a deep sideline throw to Pierre Garcon, who was covered by Patriots rookie Devin McCourty. Manning didn’t get enough on the ball, and his pass was intercepted by New England safety James Sanders.
Manning blamed himself, as well he should, because tight end Jacob Tamme was in the vicinity and basically double covered. Sanders had coverage on Tamme but peeled back for the pass, which, in the end, appeared to be in no-man’s land. New England linebacker Jermaine Cunningham rushed in on Manning and brushed his throwing arm just enough to reduce his velocity.
The Colts have been living on the edge this season, mainly because of their many injuries and a defense that breaks way too much. They are no longer a dominant team in the AFC, simply a competitive one because of leaders like Manning and Dwight Freeney.
Tom Brady, who won his 25th consecutive regular-season home game, and the Patriots are in much better shape with an 8-2 record, right there with the New York Jets. It’s safe to say right now one of those two teams will be in the AFC Championship Game.
But the Colts still have a chance to win another AFC South title because the Titans and Texans are fading fast and nobody really believes the Jacksonville Jaguars possess a knockout punch. Yes, they have pulled off two straight improbable wins to climb into a first-place tie with the Colts. Those two figure to settle things the weekend before Christmas when the Jaguars visit Indianapolis. By then, the Colts should have a few injured players back, including two of their running backs.
Manning did complete 38 of 52 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns. But three interceptions — and he took blame for them — ruined any comeback chances against the Patriots. It was his 61st career game with 300 or more yards passing. It also was his fourth game this season and 63rd career game with three or more touchdown passes.
Funny how stats don’t always tell the story, considering Brady passed for only 186 yards. But he did throw two touchdowns, and unlike Manning, he didn’t have one interception. He did have a close call late in the fourth quarter, but a Colts linebacker dropped his errant throw.
New England plays on Thanksgiving in Detroit before a showdown date with the Jets in Foxborough on Dec. 6.
Tantrum in Tennessee
When is enough, enough?
Titans coach Jeff Fisher figured Sunday night he had enough of quarterback Vince Young, proclaiming him a non-starter for next week’s game at Houston. A gut-wrenching overtime loss can do that, coupled with a guy like Young, who looked like he might be able to play, and possibly save the day with his feet at least, but chose to remain on the sideline. The Titans just needed some kind of spark to beat the Redskins, who weren’t exactly dominating the game.
From his glorious but spoiled days at the University of Texas, Young has basically acted as if he’s above it all at Tennessee. Yes, he tore a flexor tendon in his right thumb, which the trainers immobilized with tape, and tossed the ball on the sideline but never once told Fisher he could play. When the game ended, Young tossed his jersey and shoulder pads into the stands among some booing fans. Later he had words with Fisher before basically running out of the locker room, with teammate Michael Griffin in pursuit. Young ran like a damn baby, a spoiled brat.
Young’s basic problem with his teammates and Fisher is that veteran Kerry Collins played with a torn tendon in the middle finger of his throwing hand when the Titans beat Philadelphia four weeks ago. Collins fought through the pain and discomfort gripping the ball to play and practice with the injury, which initially occurred the previous week. Collins was listed as the Titans’ third quarterback Sunday because of a more severe calf injury.
Monday morning, Young sent out a twitter, apologizing to his teammates. The message said he was “sorry” and also that he was “competitive.”
But his actions have always said something different. During the bye week, he had an injured ankle, but instead of spending a few days in Nashville getting the proper treatment, he went to Austin for the opening of his new steakhouse and allegedly also took a little side trip to South Beach in Miami. Some of his teammates and Fisher weren’t happy that a little fun and business took precedent over treatment. Fisher was then even more upset when as many as 11 players missed curfew before the Miami game.
Players have to be accountable, and right now, Young isn’t.
Fisher said Young “never came to me and said he was OK and wanted to go back in, and I was told that he was obviously a little upset after. I was also told that he threw half of his uniform in the stands. I think clearly that is no way to respond, and so we have some things that we have to sort out with him.”
In the first half, with boos coming from the crowd after a failed third-down conversion, Young waved his arms encouraging the crowd to boo louder.
Apparently, being paid millions to play quarterback isn’t enough for Young. He wants to be loved, too, even when he messes up. He wants to be forgiven after every immature tantrum he throws. Well, the NFL isn’t high school.
Now, we know that Titans owner Bud Adams, who lives in Young’s hometown of Houston, pushed for his team to draft Young and has been his biggest booster. Of course, Adams is only around Young on game days. He doesn’t have to deal with him on a daily basis. And it soon could reach a point where Adams might have to choose between Fisher, who has had it with Young, or his petulant quarterback.
Don’t forget that Adams ordered Young into the lineup twice. First, during his rookie season of 2006 after an 0-3 beginning, and then again last season after a 59-0 disaster at New England that finished off a 0-6 start. And this isn’t Young’s first public meltdown. In 2008, he refused to go back into a game after throwing an interception and being booed by the hometown fans.
The awful part about this is that being a quarterback naturally makes you a leader of a team. Young has embraced that role only when times are good. When times are tough, like they were Sunday, he ran. He ran away from adversity as fast as he could. That’s hardly the action of a natural leader.
And that is Fisher’s dilemma. Young has ability, but some of his teammates don’t trust him. Does Fisher prop him up again and figure out a way to make it work? There are six games left and the Titans still have a playoff chance at 5-5. Or does Fisher simply move on with rookie Rusty Smith and wait on Collins to get healthy? The Titans also are expected to re-sign Chris Simms today.
My best guess is Young stays on the bench. It might be the best place for him.